Creative Solution to Rural Problem Creates Win-Win-Win Situation

by Kjersti Nordskog, 06/07/2012

In Norway, the responsibility to take care of the elderly lies with the individual municipality. For rural municipalities and communities, finding someone to fill-in during weekends and on holidays can be a substantial headache. The municipality of Karmøy, located on the southwestern coast of Norway, has found an elegant solution to this problem: the municipality offers a scholarship to healthcare students of approx 1000 US dollars a year in exchange for the students’ agreement to work on 10 weekend shifts and 5 weeks (during their summer vacations) in a healthcare facility in their community. In addition to the work experience, the students are compensated for the hours worked providing a good supplement to the student loan that the Norwegian government provides.

Fotograf: Produnis

In addition to providing a much needed source of qualified workers, the program also helps the community retain members who might otherwise leave to attend university out of the region never to return.

According to the local newspaper Haugesunds avis,  between 20 and 30 health care students have benefited from this unique scholarship arrangement so far. Likewise, the municipality has benefited from an increased supply of qualified medical professional at a substantively reduced cost. Moreover, the elderly patients benefit from the continuity provided by the assistance throughout the course of the year. In sum, this program has been a win-win-win for the students, for the community, and for the patients.

Are there any other examples of creative solutions to service delivery problems in rural communities out there? Tell us in the comments section!

Illustration photo: Produnis 

KJERSTI NORDSKOG is one of the editors of this blog. She finished a masters degree in Human geography at the University of Oslo in 2009, and got involved in ICRPS through her job at the Norwegian Agricultural Economic Research Institute (NILF).  She participated in the 2010 Summer Institute in Oregon, and was a co-organizer of the 2011 Summer Institute in Norway.